Sonos Roam Portable Speaker: Small Enough for Your Backpack, Big Enough to Fill a Room
Sonos recently announced Roam, their smallest, least expensive speaker yet. Roam is also the second Sonos speaker to support Bluetooth, making it extremely portable.
Smaller than most water bottles, Roam will easily fit into your go bag or your travel carryon. It's also rugged and waterproof (IP67 rated), meaning you needn't worry about bringing it outdoors with you.
Sound-wise, Roam is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker I've ever tried, and I've tried anything that I thought might sound remotely good. Of course, Roam sounded great in my home, on Wi-Fi, using glorious, uncompressed sound. It is truly impressive, especially for its size, but I figured once I left the house and transitioned to Bluetooth, the quality difference between Roam and all-my-other-portable-Bluetooth-speakers would evaporate. This was not the case. Even on Bluetooth (with less audio bandwidth than Wi-Fi), the sound of Roam remained full and present. This little speaker sounds much bigger than it looks. I'm not sure what Sonos did here to accomplish this, but it's clear the Roam has both the hardware and the software to deliver.
Speaking of software, Roam is also a full-fledged Sonos citizen when on your home Wi-Fi. You can stereo pair it with another Roam, you can sync it with all your other Sonos speakers, it's got your choice of Alexa or Google voice built-in. In addition to all that, Roam is an AirPlay 2 speaker, meaning you can stream directly over Wi-Fi from your Mac or iPhone, and sync it up with all your other AirPlay 2 devices, too.
Battery Life and Qi Charging
Battery life when playing music was fantastic for us, easily hitting the rated 10-hours that Sonos provides. Our test unit seemed to not like to stay in sleep mode to conserve power, however, so we didn't get the advertised 10 days of sleep time on a full charge. Our experience was more like one or two days. Hopefully that's just an anomaly with our system or unit here. We'll keep testing and will update this piece as things progress.
The great part is that Roam is chargeable by USB-C cable or by simply placing it on a Qi pad. Doing that completely mitigated any battery/sleep issues and makes Roam super-easy to just grab-and-go. Honestly, having any Bluetooth-only speaker that charged like this on a Qi pad would be a game changer. The fact that it's part of my Sonos ecosystem while doing so is almost icing on the cake.
Price and Availability
At US$169, Roam is both the least expensive speaker sold by Sonos and also fairly priced at the high-end of portable Bluetooth speakers. It really is a great value in the bang-for-your-buck department, and would make a perfect first step into the Sonos ecosystem, especially for us Apple users with Roam's AirPlay 2 abilities.
Roam will be available starting on 4/20, and pre-orders are already open. It's available in two colors: Lunar White and Shadow Black. Due to COVID, of course, we weren't able to attend any sort of event to see both colors in person, but the Lunar White has proven to be a household favorite, and even after beating on it quite a bit (both indoors and out), it looks just like it did when it came out of the box.